The Purpose of Flies
Is it me or are there so many more flies around at this time of year than normal? I mean, when it is the middle of summer and it is hot outside, I can understand them coming into the house to get some respite from the heat, although I’ve never heard of flies suffering from sunstroke. I used to work in an office where we had one of those really cool electrical fly killers that looks like a tennis racket. Armed with tennis racket or rolled up magazine, the result is almost always the same however. I finally decide to leave my computer. I pick up the weapon of choice and move slowly, stealthily approaching the optimum position to exterminate the fly with a vicious backhand or crushing downward smash and nine times out of ten, despite my seemingly deadly accuracy, the fly somehow avoids death by milliseconds. Determined to be rid of this filthy, annoying and uninvited pest, I do not give up. Before I know it, I am swinging left and right, up and down, all over the place, hitting blinds, and other, more delicate things if I’m not very careful, all in the name of ridding myself of a genuine nuisance. It is of course, extremely rewarding when the world has been skilfully saved from one more “insect invader” and I get to sit down again in peace…until its replacement shows up for duty within minutes at the most.
So, I started thinking to myself, “Do flies have any real purpose in this world?” It would certainly make me feel better to know that there is a reason for their existence; in a similar vein to something I once heard about spiders – “if they didn’t exist, then we would be overrun by an unstoppable army of insects” (or something as equally apocalyptic-sounding as that) The best answer I could find for flies was this:
“Houseflies are here because they have been very successful. They look for dead animals and lay their eggs on the decaying carcasses. In doing so, they help rid this world of the smell of decaying flesh, which can be revolting to say the least. Although the sight of hundreds, even thousands, of maggots wiggling in a decaying carcass can be quite nauseating, it is better than the alternative of having dead animals decomposing slowly and making the world stink. We should in fact thank the housefly and their relatives for making this world smell a lot better than it would be without them.”
I have no idea if any of this is making you feel better about the ubiquitous flies. I can’t claim to feel better myself but what I do know is this: Flapping around after something that I am never going to be completely rid of, pretending I am doing something useful is not a good use of my time and energy – however much satisfaction I may get from my 10% kill rate*.
Coming from someone who is all about helping others to overcome hindrances or make radical change, this may sound slightly counter-intuitive but I actually believe there are some things we simply need to accept – whether it is something about ourselves or someone else, or the consequences of previous actions that we are now having to face up to and deal with. So if nothing else, let the purpose of tomorrow’s flies simply be to remind you to let it go.
*Apparently, flies are able to spot a looming fly swat and plan and carry out an emergency take-off in less than 200 milliseconds. So, to hit even one per day is pretty impressive-amazing-ninja-Mr. Miyagi-like. That does make me feel better!